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OTB #014: 4 Rules for Playing Against C-bets Out of Position in the Big Blind in Single Raised Pots

Updated: Mar 18

Single raised pots against or as the big blind are one of the most common spots in poker so it makes sense to spend time drilling it and exploring your mistakes and blunders.

Today I want to share 4 rules for facing a c-bet out of position in the big blind in a single raised pot.

Before we get into it, I want to share some underlying principles...

When you face a small c-bet, you should:

  • Continue more frequently

  • Check raise more

When you face a big c-bet, you should:

  • Fold more frequently

  • Check raise less

OK, let's dive in...

Rule #1: Fold more when your opponent has all the advantages

The LJ opens and you defend in the BB.

The flop comes AQJfd. You check and they bet ~75% pot.

What do you do with Qh5h here?

You should fold.

This is a much better board for your opponent. They have all the advantages here:

  • Equity (65.7% vs 34.3%)

  • Nuts (20.5% 2 pair+ vs 5.9%)

  • Position (they're in position, you're out of position)

All of that means you have to overfold.

It might 'feel' uncomfortable folding 2nd pair, but it's the right thing to do.

Your hand has very poor ability to realise equity and you could improve on the turn and still lose a huge pot given your opponent could have all the sets, two pair and straights already.

If you've ever heard the term Minimum Defence Frequency (MDF) you need to ignore it here.

When you have all the disadvantages you have to over fold.

The only Qx hands that really want to continue here need to have something else going for them, like a backdoor flush draw or a gutshot.

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that not only do you have to fold a lot of 2nd pairs here, some of your top pairs are are actually indifferent* as well. You would much prefer to call A8o with a club, than without.

(* that means they make the same EV if they call or fold)

Have you ever folded top pair to a c-bet before?

You can see that it's the right thing to do with some hands, mainly those without a backdoor flush draw.

Rule #2: Check raise more frequently on paired boards with more than just your value hands

The BTN opens and you defend in the BB.

The flop comes T88fd, you check and the BTN bets ~35% pot. What do you do with Kh7s?

You should check raise most of the time.

Having the Kh makes it harder for the BTN to have a flush draw, so you're reducing the combos they can continue with.

You can also bluff on certain run outs. A heart, a 6, a 9 and a King are all good cards to barrel if the CO calls a check raise on the flop.

Paired boards have the highest frequency of check raises from the BB facing an IP cbet in single raised pots. The BB often has a nut advantage and gets to leverage that by raising both their value hands and bluffs.

Value hands will often by trips and then you can bluff with:

  • Flush draws

  • Straight draws

  • One card of the suit

  • Three to a straight, three to a flush

Rule #3: Continue more frequently with backdoor draws

EP opens and you call in the BB.

The flop comes Q32fd, you check and EP bets ~51% pot. What should you do?

You should continue as you have two back door draws (flush and straight).

But this is where there's a fine line between Rule #1 and Rule #3.

You don't want to hit MDF in this spot because EP's range is very strong, so you should fold a lot more.

Almost all made hands and all draws continue, bar hands like 66, 55 and 44 without a spade.

You don't need to find many more hands, but our best high cards with back door draws should be the first candidates as they have more equity and ability to realise that equity too.

KTo is around the bottom of the range that wants to call here. K9o with the Ks starts folding.

Rule #4: Check raise top pair more frequently when shallow

The CO opens and you call in the BB.

The flop comes K63fd, you check and the CO bets ~25% pot. What should you do?

You should raise for value.

You can get value from weaker Kx hands, underpairs, 6x, 3x, flush draws and backdoor flush draws.

So there's plenty to get value from.

67% of your top pairs raise for value here. You should start with the best kickers and then start to check around K8 and K7.

Then you can bluff with some combo draws, flush draws, some backdoor flush draws (especially where you have three to a straight as well), some straight draws and finally what I refered to earlier as "blocker raises", meaning hands like offsuit Qx with the Qh, blocking our opponents Qx flush draws and giving us an increased chance of successfully bluffing later in the hand if the CO does continue on the flop.

A lot of rec players I work with undervalue top pair. The overall raising frequency is almost 25%, and yet I often see players check/call too much with both their top pair hands and draws.


If you want to be more sticky and therefore tougher to play against, follow these 4 rules when facing c-bets out of position in single raised pots:

  • Rule #1: Fold more when your opponent has all the advantages

  • Rule #2: Check raise more frequently on paired boards with more than just your value hands

  • Rule #3: Continue more frequently with backdoor draws

  • Rule #4: Check raise top pair more frequently when shallow

Good luck out there!


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